Ken Lewis, the outgoing C.E.O. of Bank of America, held his final conference call to go over quarterly numbers today, and the Times says he’s struck an “elegiac note.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for the ups you’ve shown me during my time with you and the support you’ve shown the company,” Mr. Lewis said. “It’s been a pleasure to lead Bank of America and interact with all of you. I have no doubt that Bank of America will thrive and my absence will not slow the momentum that is starting once again to move forward.”
It’s been mostly down times lately for Mr. Lewis and his bank. This morning the bank announced a loss of $1 billion dollars in the third quarter. And last night, at the urging of President Obama’s “pay czar,” the embattled Mr. Lewis agreed not to take a salary for this year. Bank of America is still trying to figure out how to pay back $45 billion dollars in government assistance.
As for Mr. Lewis’s sunny prognosis, he seems to be the only not doubting the bank’s momentum. Dealbook says the bank is “beset with problems that run from Washington to civil courtrooms to its own boardroom.” (Not to pile on, but there are some serious problems in Albany too.)
The problems are complicated by Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch and the bonuses it agreed to pay without telling its shareholders. (Max Abelson reports that the bank’s corporate apartment, where the deal was hatched, just sold for $7.2 million.) One bank director, whose e-mail was quoted on Dealbook, seemed not to like the deal: “Unfortunately it’s screw the shareholders!!”
More internal communications should be headed to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office soon.